If you walk through Bernburg (Saale) you will always meet images of a famous person, which we know from many legends – Till Eulenspiegel.
There is the Eulenspiegel pharmacy, the Eulenspiegel monument, pictures of Eulenspiegel on house walls – yes and in Bernburg stands the largest Eulenspiegel monument.
Not a statue or sculpture, as you might suspect – no, it’s the Eulenspiegel tower in Bernburg Castle.
Why this is so and why Till Eulenspiegel was in Bernburg – we found out.
Who was Till Eulenspiegel?
If one believes the traditions, Till Eulenspiegel was born in 1300 in Kneitlingen am Elm. It is not known exactly what he looked like. In illustrations he is often depicted with a jester’s cap. But he is not said to have been a jester. It is said that he was rather intellectually superior to his fellow men and that he used to take sayings and idioms with wit. His pranks are still told today and interpreted as an indication of people’s shortcomings.
Eulenspiegel died, so proves a memorial stone from the 16th century in 1350 in Mölln.
Whether Till Eulenspiegel really existed, or whether it’s all just nice stories, it’s not exactly known. Numerous researchers are still trying to prove his existence – but with absolute certainty no one has succeeded so far.
Around 1510, a book was published with the title “Ein kurtzweilig lesen von Dyl Ulenspiegel, geboren vß dem land zu Brunßwick, wie er sein leben volbracht hat. XCVI of his stories”. It quickly became a bestseller and was translated into many languages as early as the 16th century. In the course of time, newer modified stories were created, which portrayed Eulenspiegel more sympathetically. To date, the book has been translated into 280 languages.
Why was Till Eulenspiegel in Bernburg an der Saale?
Do you know the legend, when Till Eulenspiegel was tower blower at the Count of Anhalt? I knew the legend from school, what I did not know, however, that this should have happened in Bernburg on the Saale.
Eulenspiegel is said to have been in Bernburg in the first half of the 14th century and hired by the Count of Anhalt.
Eulenspiegel is said to have experienced the following in Bernburg …
The Count of Anhalt lived in his castle in Bernburg.
Eulenspiegel’s job as a tower blower was to keep a lookout for enemies and to toot a signal on a horn in case of danger.
While Eulenspiegel sat like this on his tower, the count and the knights enjoyed themselves. They dined and drank – but no one thought to provide Eulenspiegel with food.
One day, when he spotted the enemies on the horizon, Eulenspiegel did nothing. He did not blow the horn and so the enemies were able to steal cattle from the pasture. The count, of course, was not amused and confronted Till Eulenspiegel: “Aren’t you going to blow the enemies’ horns?” Eulenspiegel shouted back, “I mustn’t blow at any enemies, otherwise the field will be full of them, and part of it is already gone with the cows. If I blow any more enemies, they will beat you to death.” For this time the words remained.
The count hurried after the enemies and managed to get back some of his cattle. He slaughtered them and once again he and the knights dined with relish, forgetting Eulenspiegel in his turret room.
Eulenspiegel decided to do something himself against the hunger and, although no enemies were to be seen far and wide, blew the signal “Feindio, Feindio”.
Immediately the count and the knights ran to chase away the enemies. The cunning Till left the tower at this time and helped himself to the richly laid table.
No sooner had the count returned than he fetched his tower barker and asked him, “Have you become nonsensical and mad?” Eulenspiegel said: “I am without guile. But hunger and hardship invent many a cunning.” Then the count wanted to know why he had sounded the signal when there was no enemy in sight. Eulenspiegel answered: “Because there were no enemies, I had to blow quite a few.
The count was of course anything but pleased and insulted Eulenspiegel as a traitor. He transferred him to his entourage as a footman as punishment. Now Till had to go out with him whenever enemies came. But Till would not be Till if he did not have an idea that improved his life.
As soon as the signal sounded he was the last to leave the castle and the first to return to the castle. Of course, the count noticed this and asked him about it. Eulenspiegel said: “You should not be angry with me about this. For when you and your court servants were already eating, I was sitting on the tower and starving; I have become weak from this. Now, if I am to be the first to the enemy, I must catch up with the time and make special haste to be the first at the table and the last to get up, so that I may become strong again. Then I guess I want to be the first and the last at the enemies.”
The Count of Anhalt then dismissed Eulenspiegel from his service.
Visit to theEulenspiegelturm
Bernburg was first mentioned in a document in 961. In 1138 one finds further information in written records. At that time the castle was burned down and when it was rebuilt around 1150, the keep was erected. This round massive defense tower was part of the castle’s defenses. Characteristic for towers of this type is the wicket door, which was located at the top of the tower. Once the door was closed, enemies had difficulty getting inside the tower. Battering rams could not do much on the round walls, 3.60 meters thick in the lower part, yes, and the only entrance was very far up.
If you want to visit the keep “Eulenspiegelturm”, you go through an annex from the 17th century and a wooden bridge into the tower. At first the steps are still wide and the access is easy. From the so-called “Black Bridge” you have a good view into the castle courtyard and you first reach the domed hall of the tower.
Prince Victor Amadeus of Bernburg-Anhalt had the hall built into the tower in 1666. The coat of arms in the vaulted ceiling forms the keystone. Today the room is used for exhibitions.
Right next to the dome hall, a steep and narrow staircase that runs between the outer wall and the inner wall leads upwards. One continues into the interior of the tower and then stands above the dome. Here you can see the dome and its construction from above.
Via a wooden staircase we climb further up the tower and after a total of 147 steps we arrive in the Türmerstube.
Till Eulenspiegel in the Turret room
What a surprise here in the 38 meter high tower actually awaits us Till Eulenspiegel.
He sits on a bench behind a metal spider web and awaits his visitors. At the push of a button, he begins to move and tell his story.
I listen to his words with great interest and imagine how he kept a lookout for enemies up here. I can imagine the enthusiasm with which children listen to the legend and learn something about Till Eulenspiegel in Bernburg. So it is definitely fun to deal with the legend.
After the story is told, you can look around a bit and take a look out of the three tower windows. I don’t look out for enemies, of course, but I still enjoy the view from the tower windows.
Then we carefully descend the steep stairs and return across the wooden bridge to the castle courtyard.
Every year, a children’s Eulenspiegel is chosen as the symbolic figure in Bernburg. Dressed in the traditional Eulenspiegel costume, she performs representative duties for the town and serves as an advertising medium to the outside world.
06406 Bernburg (Saale)
The ascent is only possible with an escort on the hour, the last ascent is one hour before the tower closes!
Tuesday – Sunday: 10-17 h
Holidays: 10-17 h
November – March
Tuesday-Thursday: 10-16 h
Friday: 10-13 h
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 10-16h
per person: 2,-€
Children under 6 years have free entrance.
Disclosure: The visit and the guided tour through the Eulenspiegelturm of Bernburg was made possible for us in the context of a cooperation with the Museum Schloss Bernburg. Many thanks! The report was written independently of the visit and corresponds to our impressions.